The Bigger the Better: A Look at Possible Big-Name Trades

Posted by Kevin Durso

Houston Astros' Hunter Pence Follows

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

A few days ago, Charlie Manuel stressed that just another player at the deadline wasn’t going to cut it. Here’s what Manuel had to say about the Phillies’ needs with the trade deadline rapidly approaching.

“I think we can definitely use a reliever, I think without a doubt, but I also think we could use a good bat,” he said. “And when I say a reliever or a bat, I’m talking about a good one. If we can find a good bat and we don’t get a good reliever, well, then we’ll take the good bat, if that makes sense. I want somebody good. If we are going to get somebody, I’ll tell you guys like I would tell them, I want somebody good. Somebody that is going to help us. I don’t want to get what we’ve already got.”

So, if Manuel wants somebody good, who do the Phillies’ target? With that, here’s a look at some of the big names available and how the Phillies could benefit from putting together a deal to get them.

Carlos Beltran – The New York Mets oufielder would certainly upgrade the Phillies’ lineup, seemingly making a perfect fit in the fifth spot, currently occupied by Shane Victorino. Beltran is hitting .293 with 15 home runs and 61 RBIs, but he brings more than that. Beltran still has some fielding prowess, but is mainly being looked at for his bat. Honestly, this is not the top hitter I would target if I were the Phillies, but considering recent reports, this could be the guy the Phillies are targeted the most. They are considered perfect fits for the 34-year old outfielder, and early favorites in acquiring his services. I’m not so sure I’m excited at that news. Do I think Beltran makes the Phillies better? Yes. The problem I have with Beltran is the fact that he will be a two-month rental, and that the cost could outweigh the payoff. In that case, even the ultimate reward won’t make him worth what some of these prospects could in the future. So, if you’re asking me, the real deal player is the one I mention next.

Hunter Pence – This guy is the real deal. He’s hitting .316 with 11 homers and 61 RBIs. He’s got one of the best averages in the league. He’s been a pest in the Phillies’ ballpark. And he’s only 28. There is a huge payoff waiting for this guy, and it could come with the Phillies. The Astros have made major deals with the Phillies before (note the Roy Oswalt deal last season, or the Brad Lidge deal of 2008) and could be willing to do it again. After all, a former Phillies GM is running the ship in Houston. They have made it clear they are willing to trade him if necessary, and Pence has what Beltran doesn’t. Beltran’s future doesn’t look as bright. He’s been bounced around, and has struggled enough to even be placed on waivers by the Mets during the 2010 season. Pence is an emerging superstar, and with many questions in right field, and a vacated left field spot creeping closer, the Phillies could use a proven outfielder. This is their guy.

Josh Willingham – Willingham is hitting only .240 for the Athletics, but has 12 homers and 47 RBIs. If anything, he could be a run producer. Still, he’s also not what the Phillies are looking for. The solid player Manuel wants will be in the lineup almost everyday. Willingham seems more like a bench option than a starter.

Scott Hairston – Hairston is on this list only because he has been mentioned in a few reports. The Phillies have also been scouting him in addition to looking at Beltran. Hairston is hitting .261 with 5 home runs and 19 RBIs. Again, he’s essentially a bench player, not exactly what the Phillies are looking for.

Melky Cabrera – Again, this is another player the Phillies are linked to. Cabrera has been a solid outfielder for the Royals, hitting .294 with 12 home runs and 54 RBIs. He’s another proven starter with more of an upside than Beltran. I’d settle for Cabrera should a deal with Pence fall through or fail to come together.

Ryan Ludwick – Take a good look at this upcoming series with the Padres, because by the end of this homestand, some of the current Padres could be Phillies. One is Ryan Ludwick, an outfielder hitting .244 with 11 home runs and 61 RBIs. He is a starter, but not as quality as he was when he was with St. Louis. That decline makes him less appealing opposed to Pence, Beltran, or Cabrera.

Heath Bell – Don’t let his 2-3 record fool you, because this guy deserved to be an All-Star. Bell has 27 saves, and a healthy 2.52 ERA. He’s closer material, which appeals to the Phillies, who seem to have found a closer already. But, with Antonio Bastardo closing, and Ryan Madson and Mike Stutes setting up, plus the future additions of Brad Lidge and Jose Contreras, who are to return from injury soon, they might not need a relief pitcher capable of what Bell brings. If the Padres aren’t picky on the players in return, go for it, but likely the Padres will demand quite a bit, and that might not be worth it for the Phils.

Tim Byrdak – Here’s one of the Phillies best possible options, and could be packaged as part of a deal with Beltran. His ERA of 3.65 isn’t appealing, but he is 1-0 and a lefty that has controlled the Phillies’ best. He has become familiar with the division, which could also help the Phillies. But, getting Byrdak by himself is likely not an option, so it would take a greater deal to get him.

Leo Nunez – Nunez is in the same spot as Bell, a decent closer, but also a right-handed reliever. He is 0-2 with a 3.30 ERA, but has saved 27 games. This move has been rumored, but is also highly unlikely, because it would be tough to see any team trade their closer within the division.

Mike Adams – Adams is another Padre being shopped, and he might be even more appealing to the Phillies. With him being not as much of a closer, his 3-1 record and 1.23 ERA makes this look like a potential steal from San Diego. But, pitchers are hard to judge, and if the Phillies are to invest in another reliever, they might want to look for a left-hander. Adams is a righty.

Luke Gregerson – Another right-handed reliever for the Padres, Gregerson is 2-3 with a 2.70 ERA. But, again, he is simply a late-inning pitcher, and is not a lefty. With that, he might also not be much of an option for the Phillies.

Obviously, in all this, the Phillies would have to have something to give up. The Phillies greater need is a bat, so I wouldn’t look into relievers all that much at first. For anyone who has heard anything, assume Domonic Brown is staying put. His name has been thrown around quite a few rumors, but I find it hard to see them moving the young outfielder. The Phillies’ top prospects to deal seem to be Jarred Cosart and Jonathan Singleton. The Phillies have made it clear they are willing to move Singleton, and Cosart has been labeled as one of the building blocks to a major deal with a player like Beltran or Pence. But, the Phillies will likely not part ways with players like Stutes, Bastardo, or Vance Worley because they have become valuable pieces to the team. If anything happens, it will be with prospects, and nobody seems to be off limits.

A deal will happen. Ruben’s clearly got something up his sleeve, and he’s got a big name outfielder in there, evidence by reports linking the Phillies to Pence, Beltran, and Cabrera. I honestly think one of them will be here by the deadline. Whatever the Phillies decide to do, they want the move to make them better, and they can’t get much better than they are now. So, whatever they do, it just might be the move that puts them over the top.